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Truth Telling From The Trenches With CEO of The Paint Laboratory and Color & Design Consultant R

Robin Daly's passion for color and design began in high school, when she started selling paint and wallpaper in her family's paint stores. Can you imagine trusting a 16 year old with your wallpaper choices? Over the years, she's consulted in over 5,000 homes helping people with color, wall coverings, windows and floors - she understands how people live in their homes.

Robin has written about color and design for newspapers and magazines, including a weekly column in the Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper and a monthly column for 425 Magazine. She's taught classes, appeared on radio, television and video to promote her goal of making good design available to everyone.

With her past experience helping to develop national paint brand, C2 Paint, and her new role as CEO of The Paint Laboratory, Robin's always willing to dive into a colorful conversation on the finer points of naming paint colors, the adventure of landing on the right trim color, and why there is never going to be the perfect neutral.

Where is your business located?

Seattle, WA

Where did the idea for your business come from?

How could I unite the different skills I've learned over the years and synthesize them? What problems in the marketplace could I help to solve?

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Honestly? I can assure you it's not meditating or yoga - though those sound like great ideas, reality is a little less sexy.

I check my FB, Instagram, emails, then roll out of bed and MAKE COFFEEEEEEE! Now, I am a bit choosy about my first cuppa in the morning. My coffee recipe is this:

Melt at least 3 tablespoons (okay, maybe even more) of coconut cream (the solid parts from the can) with some unsweetened coconut milk. Add two long-pulled shots of espresso and top off with 205 degree of hot water.

Delicious. Now, I'm ready to start the day.

What does your work day look like and how do you maximize your productivity?

I have recently learned that my time I spend on the computer from around 6:30-8:30am are highly productive. My ideas seems to flow, and the amount of work I can accomplish is higher - no interruptions from the busy day, my brain is activated for thought at this time.

My day is very busy, balancing family obligations with work. I do a LOT of listening to people, and then taking all this input and trying to figure out how to get things done.

I use three tools a lot:

1) A white-lined notepad. When I have conversations with people, the convo goes there first. If I have messages, notes, thoughts, etc - it goes on my notepad. Pen and hand working together. Helps to remind me of conversations, I keep the notepads for a few years, until they are no longer needed for reference.

2) My calendar. I add certain reminders as "appointments", so I can see what I have to do. I can't forget to do something if it's in my schedule.

At least, that's the idea.

3) My cell phone camera!!!! I use this on a daily basis for visual reference. What did we ever do without this thing??!!??

To maximize productivity...

Get my work thoughts out of my head on onto paper/computer!!!! Brain dump on a regular basis - then SHARE these thoughts with my colleagues. Helps me to ask the right questions, too.

How do you bring your great business ideas to the world to serve your clients?


Personal writing (those brain dumps I mentioned earlier) and professional writing - taking those ideas and turning them into actionable steps.


Where are my ideal clients hanging out? Online, just like me, right? Search functions on FB, YouTube, Instagram is now really effective - and I can learn a lot be letting my "fingers do the walking".

I also research what my competition is saying and doing. Any good ideas out there I can adopt? Anything I need to prepare myself to react to? What's going on in my world?

What I'm not doing right now:

Getting my message out to the world in a big way right now. But it's in the works.

I understand video, I see the power in it - but am busy brand-building a new venture and not prepared to do video quite yet until branding is settled.

Working on creating a brand message, tone and deciding on what channels to focus our marketing efforts. Want to be thoughtful, targeted and effective - put a plan in place that will get results.

That's what's coming next.

What is one trend in business that excites you?

Peer-to-peer Facebook groups are very interesting. The opportunity to connect with others in my field and learn from them is really exciting.

I find it really helpful to learn from other's experiences, and see how I can apply that to my own business. It saves soooooo much time when in start-up mode when people share resources, and I see how it very quickly helps the companies my peers are using, too. A brand can be elevated quite quickly just by the online chatter with other professionals in the field.

I have also seen the opposite - a brand cannot hide anymore, people talk. And if the company is not providing great service or support, people in groups will share that information, too.

What is one strategy that helped you grow your business?


Not being afraid to reach out to people.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?


My former business failed. Spectacularly and publicly.

My worst nightmare came true, and I really believe that in the space of entrepreneurship, this topic is not easily addressed because of the shame component - and that failing probably happens more often than we are comfortable talking about.

No amount of positive talk, visualization, living in intention, can keep you from the hard things in life. In fact, this chatter can all contribute to a business failure turning into a narrative of personal failure because you weren't "intentional" enough. YOU failed, not your business.

Failure can take many different forms, from 'pivoting' to shutting down to receivership/bankruptcy - but how many seminars, discussions, or how-to's address failure as an option?

Not so many.

But guess what? Very few businesses continue on into perpetuity. So, I learned that you better think about the end game, sister.

How did I overcome it? It was scary.

One thing that's helpful is to look at everything from 30,000 feet and examine all the different paths things may take. And depending upon what unfolds, you know what choices are available to you and what the ramifications of each might be. Being aware of the worst that can happen, helps you to be prepared and helps to make those hard decisions.

If you've thought through what the worst is, and know what you'd do in that case, then you know you can handle it.

Also, DO NOT DODGE THE HARD STUFF, it does not go away on its own. Face it and deal with it as soon as you can, because that is what allows you to move forward. That is what keeps you from being stuck.

And it's sooooooo not fun. But living in a state of dread is worse. So much worse. Taking control of what you can in a situation of few choices allows you to take even more control as you move forward.

Will you take it personally? Hell yes! How could you not? It is a death. And it affects you in many of the same ways.

But like anything, in life or in business, when you make choices that are in alignment to your personal values, you know that at every step you are doing the best you can to be honorable and live your values.

You learn who your real friends are. Failing can be very, very lonely, because people don't know what to say, so many people back away because they are uncomfortable with the situation.

I also learned that there is freedom in letting go. When your worst nightmare happens, you don't give energy to what others think of you. Letting go is very freeing.

Finally, I learned it's okay to start feeling better. Strangely, when failure happens, you start believing you must stay in a state of sadness to "earn" the failure label. If you've failed, then the world expects you to feel bad, show remorse and live a sad narrative.

Letting go allows you to move forward and begin a new story.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to this community?

Listen and ask questions.

Pretty simple stuff, but seems to be highly effective and makes you look smart.

I love looking smart!

What is the best $100 you have recently spent? on What? Why?

Getting a great haircut.

Hair is part of your personal brand, and a great cut can make you feel like a million bucks.

When you feel good about yourself, you convey that energy to your clients. Infectious!

What is one piece of software or app that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

The Notes app on my phone gets a lot of mileage for jotting thoughts on the go.

What is the best business book you have read? Why?


Social Media Marketing

Build Your Tribe (sometimes)

How I Built This

A Well Designed Business (for interior designers)

The Timm Ferris Show

What is your favorite quote?

"Life is a great big canvas, throw all the paint you can at it" - Danny Kaye

Who inspires you in business and why?

I dunno....

(ha! apparently not in the mood for this one!)

What are your thoughts on work-life balance?

I've tried operating with strong boundaries and with very few boundaries... It's not really about striking a balance so much as allowing the focus to constantly adjust.

What are the 3 business lessons you’ve learned so far?

See above comments about Armageddon.

What is your workspace like?

Right now, I operate with no desk but only a laptop and some files in my tote bag. My "office" is currently a chair in the living room, but this morning it was the sofa in the family room.

I need a landing spot eventually, but have moved in the direction of the cloud for much of my work.

As a visual person, I want a white board to scribble upon.

Last thing you do at the end of your work day?

Look over my calendar to see what's coming up the next day.

What is the one thing you can't leave home without?


What superpower would you love to have to use for good?


Number of unread emails right now?


Anything else you want to add?

Going through the worst in business allows you to decide what is important to keep in your life. Allows you to define what success means to yourself.

How can other entrepreneurs connect with you?






If you are reading this and are interested in being featured in the Truth Telling from the Trenches series - apply here.

#truth #feature #women #business #debbiepage #design #color #consultant

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